Homer’s Iliad printed by William Pickering

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I picked up this volume primarily because it is a nice object – an attractive full leather 1846 edition of Homer’s Iliad printed by William Pickering. But there is more to this book than meets the eye.

Homer's iliad printed by William PickeringHomer's iliad leather bound

William Pickering was an innovative publisher. He made advances with typeface and print quality and, perhaps most significantly, he introduced cloth bindings. But Pickering was concerned with more than the physical. Something of an idealist, he made it his mission to propagate scholarly and important works.

This was very much in the tradition of the great Venetian publisher Aldus Manutius, who gathered to him Greek scholars and teachers fleeing the collapse of the Byzantine Empire, in order to preserve their legacy, and in doing so, helped fuel the Renaissance of Western Europe.

Pickering was very much an heir of Manutius and this book is an example of the civilizing influence publishers could and still can wield. And note Pickering’s device on the title page: the Dolphin wrapped around an anchor. The same symbol of Manutius’ Aldine Press.

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